The field of public entities looking for taxpayer money might get crowded next year, Richland city officials warned the Richland School Board during a joint meeting Thursday.
The Richland City Council and the school board met during a workshop at the Richland library to discuss issues affecting both bodies.
The school district potentially will run a levy election in February 2012, Superintendent Jim Busey told city officials.
That could be tough going next year, said Mayor Pro Tem Ed Revell.
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"There are new players that have taxing authority -- the public facilities districts," he said.
The Regional Public Facilities District was born last summer. Covering all of the Tri-Cities, it can put a two-tenths of a percent sales tax before voters to finance a large public project that benefits all three cities.
"What could happen is we could have a train wreck in that a lot of entities go up for tax measures at the same time and voters not vote for any of them," Revell said.
It would be helpful for city officials to know about any school levy elections planned between now and 2015, because the regional facilities district only has until then to get a levy on the ballot, he said.
Considering that time limit and the fact that the regional facilities district is unlikely to get a tax measure on the ballot this year, 2012 seems a likely time for its tax election, Revell said.
But the school district's current levy runs out next year. "We have no other choice," said school board President Richard Jansons.
To further complicate matters, if the regional facilities district doesn't choose to put money toward the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, the Richland Public Facilities District might run a separate tax measure to get the project done, said Councilwoman Sandra Kent.
The taxing authority of the local and regional facilities districts is aggregate, Revell said, which means that any sales tax raise commanded by one entity is subtracted from the other's tax measure. The total sales tax increase cannot be higher than two-tenths of a percent.
How that would be split up exactly is unknown, because the Tri-Cities' regional facilities district is the first in the state, said Gary Ballew, Richland's economic development manager.
The school district also is tentatively planning to run a bond measure as early as 2013, Busey said.
The public will get a chance to comment and participate in the school levy and the bond measure. A meeting to share information on the school levy is planned for April 28, Busey said.
And a bond committee that has been made up of district employees to assess the need for new schools will expand to include members of the public starting in May, he said.
Also discussed in Thursday's meeting:
-- Delta High School, which is run by the Pasco, Kennewick and Richland school districts, and in a building owned by Columbia Basin College in Richland, will need to be expanded by fall 2012, Busey said. The school will then begin its fourth year, which means it will have students in all four grades, around 400 total. Negotiations with CBC are under way. About 6,000 square feet will be added, to be paid for by the nonprofit foundation supporting the school.
-- The state has approved local revitalization financing to expand the research district in north Richland. This means that the city can build roads and sewers, for example, to lure new businesses into that area and then get state money to help pay off the bonds it sold to build the infrastructure, Ballew said.
The city expects growth in north Richland, which likely will mean more students at Hanford High School, Mayor John Fox said. The school still has room for more students, Jansons said.